With COVID-19 (aka the Coronavirus) recently classified as a pandemic, people seem to have more questions than answers. And in addition to washing hands and avoiding large gatherings, information is one of our greatest weapons as we fight this health crisis.
Just like the virus, misinformation can spread fast.
It’s important to have a central hub for communication with employees, parents, teachers, and other important audiences.
You need a communication medium that’s fast, accessible, and reliable. When 90% of texts are read within three minutes, and nearly all Americans equipped with a cellphone, it makes for a helpful tool.
Staff Alert System For COVID-19 Info
With many businesses encouraging staff to work from home, there are a lot of accommodations that need to be made in a short amount of time. The reality is, email just isn’t fast enough, and people may not check in regularly. Especially when they’re out of office.
Urgent memos can get lost in the inbox among the “business as usual” messages. That’s where SMS comes in.
Texting’s speed and efficiency make it easy to keep everyone on the same page in a moment’s notice.
In case of, and in preparation for, an emergency, you can use texting to:
- Report closing and changes to staff schedules
- Share relevant updates on the spread of the disease
- Share where employees can access resources or get support (especially if being out of office takes away resources like childcare, meals, or transportation).
- Relay information on compensation and healthcare
- Send links to relevant intranet articles and FAQs
- Serve as a general hotline where concerned staff can chat one-on-one with team members or HR reps
You can even set up advanced features such as triggers that automatically share the email or number to call in case of illness to report.
You’re now opted in to the Avont emergency health text system. Reply with DOCTOR to find out the procedure for seeking treatment. If this is an emergency, please call 911.
For inspiration, read about the Alpha School who uses texts as a way to quickly keep parents informed of any changes or emergencies on campus.
How to Set Up Staff Alerts
For step-by-step instructions, read our article How to Set Up An Emergency Text Alert System. If you’re just looking for the highlights, know that a system can be set up in under an hour.
All you need to do is:
- Set up your SMS software: You’ll need to create an account with a text message software provider.
- Import your contacts: You can import a list of employee or parent phone numbers as long as they’ve given you permission to contact them.
- Set up a keyword or web form: Even if you don’t have a list of phone numbers, it’s easy to collect numbers. Just add a web form to your site or invite people to text a unique keyword to your number of short code. (E.g. Text SCHOOLALERTS to 52855.)
- Send a test: We recommend you send out a test alert campaign to make sure it’s all up and running. From there, you’ll be fully prepared for your next emergency communication!
💡SimpleTexting Tip: The TCPA stipulates that text messages may only be sent between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the time zone your recipient is in. However, this does NOT apply in the instance of emergency alerts.
Tips For Texting and Telecommuting
SimpleTexting is comprised of remote-only team, so we know a thing or two about telecommuting!
If your organization is faced with the challenge of going remote, here are a few tips that might make the temporary transition a little easier on your team.
- Boost internal channels with text reminders– If you send out an important update via Slack or Microsoft Teams, send out a text blast to all employees to make sure they check it! Through integrations, you can even forward text messages to these very channels.
- Share updates/cancelations for meetings– If a meeting or event has to be canceled, texts are a great way to relay the information quickly. This will help prevent people from accidentally showing up because they didn’t check their email in time.
- Share when/if the office will close and reopen– Similar to events or meetings, keep employees informed on that status of the office without worrying about an email getting lost in the mix.
- Share which batch of employees should come in today– If you have shift workers, or your staff cannot work from home, ensure only the people that have to be there show up. Double down on communication efforts by texting schedule reminders to prevent mix-ups.
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Sample COVID-19 Emergency Texts
Need to get started quickly? Here are some sample emergency texts you can copy, paste, and send to your staff right away. Just be sure to replace the information and links with your own!
Hello Stars Hollow Team! Due to the recent rise in reported diagnosis in the area, we will plan to close the office effective immediately. Please read the attached PDF regarding shifts and work from home procedures. http://txt.tl/mJPLPM
Information on Symptoms/When to Seek Help
If you’re curious on confirmed ways to help prevent the spread of the virus, please reference this list of CDC-approved activities such as hand washing and sanitizing http://txt.tl/mJPLPM
While working from home be sure to limit any unnecessary time in public spaces. Please reference the attached shopping list on what you should be stocked up on: http://txt.tl/mJPLPM
New Cases Reported
A member of our staff has tested positive for the virus. We are in the process of contacting everyone they were in contact with. For now, we encourage you to remain at home and in accordance with all CDC recommendations.
Tips to Stay Healthy
TPC Tip #4: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
We encourage everyone to stay healthy and look out for those who are at high-risk for contracting the virus. Be sure to check in with reliable sources for virus updates such as the WHO and the CDC.
It’s our priority to help everyone access communication tools to help prevent further illness!